New Laws Protecting Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Victims

By: Mallory McGee

Last month, Governor Cuomo signed into law two important provisions protecting victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Cuomo believes that the laws will close a “potentially dangerous loophole and will help ensure that victims receive the protections that they deserve.”

The first law,  Chapter 240 of 2015, applies to defendants convicted of felony sexual assault. In these instances, the new law provides a ten year order of protection. This allows for the victims to receive protection through the term of probation, which is maxed at ten years. If the charge was a misdemeanor, then a mandatory six year order of protection is ordered, which is the maximum period of probation allowed. Previously, according to Criminal Procedure Law §530.12, a domestic violence victim’s order of protection would often expire before the end of the probation period. The law also amends Criminal Procedure Law §530.13 which covers crime victims not in family offenses. This amendment provides the same protections under §530.12. This law goes into effect 30 days from the signing by Cuomo.

The second law,  Chapter 241 of 2015, makes it easier for victims of domestic violence and other crimes who wish to change their name to obtain waivers for the requirement to publish any name changes in a newspaper. The amended Civil Rights Law §64-a now gives courts broad discretion to determine whether a person’s safety would be at risk by publishing a victim’s name change. This discretion is not limited to direct threats against the personal safety of the victim.… <Read More>

Domestic Violence and the Workplace

By Mallory McGee


The physical signs of domestic violence are hard to miss: cuts, bruises, and broken bones. However, there are many effects of domestic violence that may be hard to see, including mental and emotional abuse, financial exploitation, and problems in the workplace. Victims of domestic violence report that their abusers often use their place of work to stalk and harass them. The physical abuse may have ended, but the residual abuse and its aftermath can create just as much turmoil in the lives of domestic violence victims.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that victims of domestic violence can experience a decrease in job performance because of the abuse. They are also at risk for absenteeism and lateness because of the emotional effects, physical injuries, and court appearances linked to the abuse. Abusers can affect a victim’s workplace environment by calling the office repeatedly or showing up throughout the day. Abusers can also withhold car keys giving the victim no way to get to work, keep the victim from getting sleep, or refuse to provide childcare; thus, forcing the victim to stay home and miss work.

There have been initiatives to help domestic violence victims keep their jobs and for employers to provide resources or assistance, instead of firing or disciplining employees in this situation. In 2009, Governor Paterson signed a law prohibiting an employer from discriminating against an employee who is known to be a victim of domestic violence or stalking. This prohibits an employer from not hiring someone because of his or her victim status, firing the employee, or determining compensation based on the employee’s status as a victim.… <Read More>

Redefining the Family Offense of Disorderly Conduct

by Mallory McGee

CCC memo

In Cassie v. Cassie, a recent decision from the Second Department of the Supreme Court Appellate Division, the Court decided that the petitioner did not meet the required burden to establish the family offense of disorderly conduct, and directed that an order of protection be reversed. Consistent with the First and Fourth Departments, the Court held that to establish the family offense of disorderly conduct, Family Court Act §812 (1), the petitioner is required to show that the respondent “intended to cause, or recklessly created the risk of, causing public inconvenience, or harm,” in accordance with Penal Law §240.20.  The Courts’ rulings run counter to the legislative history and the intent behind Family Court Act §812 and have the potential to adversely affect future domestic violence victims.

The facts of this case, like most domestic relations matters, are in dispute. There was an argument between the petitioner and the respondent followed by a somewhat violent altercation near the stairwell of their home while their two daughters were upstairs and did not witness anything. The Court found that this incident did not cause any public ramifications or create the risk thereof. However, the inherent nature of family offenses requires a more personal, case-by-case analysis.

I agree with the Court in saying that the family offense of disorderly conduct can be unintentionally merged with the family offense of harassment if courts are not careful. However, I do not think that the solution to this issue is forcing proof of an intention to cause public ramifications, which will almost never be possible because the conduct in family offenses is most often intended for a specific party, not the public.… <Read More>